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"Ghost in the Shell" is good, not great

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Scarlett Johansson in "Ghost in the Shell"
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Adaptations in Hollywood are typically met with instant opposition from legions of diehard fans that want nothing more than the heads of all studio execs responsible. Make an adaptation of a beloved anime series in an industry that has failed every time to adapt anime to Hollywood audiences and you’ll get enough hate mail to fuel a fire for many moons.

Even though development hell plagued the production of Ghost in the Shell for the better part of a decade, the finished product ends up being one of the most faithful adaptations in recent memory.

In the not-so-distant future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first successful cybernetic amalgamation of human parts transfused with a mechanical body produced by Hanka Robotics.

Her designer (arguably the only successful transfusion of perfect and human being, Juliette Binoche) argues over using the first completed cyborg for work, but Hanka CEO (Peter Ferdinando) trains Major to fight in an anti-terrorist bureau called Section 9.

Alongside Bayou (Pilou Asbæk) and Togusa (Chin Han), Major tries to bring down a cyber-terrorist named Kuze (Michael Pitt), who has more in common with her than she knows.

Scarlett Johansson isn’t a tremendous actress, but when used correctly, her form of reticent mannerisms work for the ideal film. Major is more reclusive than in the original anime. She chooses her words more carefully and doesn’t speak in monologues. She spends most of the film rejecting her mechanical body. Existential provocations in the form of “glitches” disturb the Major into wondering who or what she truly is.

Not since Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen has a previously created world been more fully realized for the big screen. But like Watchmen, just because it’s a faithful adaptation, doesn’t mean it will have the same intent and spirit.

The beautifully bright, yet derelict city that Major wonders around is the type of setting that would make Ridley Scott proud (think Blade Runner  without the innovation). Clint Mansell delivers a remarkably melancholic score that elevates the film past being just another pretty, but passable movie.

Ghost in the Shell is a fine action movie. But it falls into the Marvel Cinematic Universe birthed cliché that has set a lazy landscape for all big-budgeted action films. It’s the repetitive plot of having a hero with a possession of foreign power that they don’t know how to live with it, but eventually, accepts said powers after an internal struggle.

Elongated expectations are a powerful thing. It’s impossible to appease fans of a classic anime that has been inspiring action films since its release in 1995 (The Matrix would be nonexistent without the original Ghost in the Shell). It ends up being an average action film with engrossing visuals and an extraordinary score. All the backlash seems to be based on expectations that blind viewers from giving it an unbiased opinion.

It’s not as bad as viewers are making it out to be. It’s good. But it’s only good.

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About the Author

Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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